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Cure for Eczema?
Q: Is eczema curable? If so, with what treatment? And how is eczema contracted?
A: Eczema is a skin condition associated with too much dryness of the skin, as well as environmental irritants. Eczema does tend to run in families, along with asthma and hay fever, so there is certainly a genetic component to it. The major sign of eczema is red bumps and itchy skin in patches on the body. In young infants it is often on the cheeks. In slightly older children it is in the inside creases of the elbows and behind the knees, though it can be all over the body.
Eczema can't truly be cured, but many children seem to "outgrow" their eczema as adults. The best way to manage it is with a combination of moisturizing agents to prevent dryness and itching of the skin, along with anti-inflammatory agents that help to reduce the redness and irritation. Good moisturizing agents include hydrated petrolatum (Vaseline, for example), or thick creams such as Eucerin. Moisturizing bath solutions such as Aveeno and Balnetar can be helpful as well. In cases where there is significant inflammation, steroid-based creams can be used to quickly reduce the bumps and irritation. You should talk with your doctor if the eczema does not respond to simple, over-the-counter strength hydrocortisone steroid cream. More potent steroid creams can be given by prescription if necessary.
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Shari Nethersole is a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and an instructor in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School. She graduated from Yale University and Harvard Medical School, and did her internship and residency at Children's Hospital, Boston. As a pediatrician, she tries to work with parents to identify and address their concerns.